Arkansas may be one of the country’s most overlooked vacation destinations. Little Rock is an excellent place to start your Arkansas travels and journey. We made it home base when we RVed through the state. Here are the fun things in Little Rock, Arkansas, that we loved best.
Did You Know? Honestly, the Wonder State is full of amazing attractions, points of interest, historic sites, and unique gems. For instance, did you know that you can mine for diamonds in Arkansas? The only place in the country.
1. Arkansas State Capitol
On my travels, I always try to incorporate seeing the state capitol, and in Little Rock, you can do just that. The Neoclassical Arkansas State Capitol, built between 1899 and 1911, is perched on Capitol Hill on the property called the Capitol Mall.
Inside, the capitol has beautiful marble flooring and sparkling Tiffany chandeliers. The six bronze doors outside are even more lovely than the inside, and the state capitol’s 24-karat gold-plated cupola.
Located on the capitol grounds is “Testament: The Little Rock Nine Monument,” the first Civil Rights Memorial on any southern capitol grounds. This thought-provoking exhibit memorializes the courage of the nine African-American students. They attended the integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
2. Camp Taco
Camp Taco is a trendy restaurant from the Lost Forty Brewing team. Camp Taco is colorful, festive, and fun and has a sensational menu with homemade flour and corn tortillas.
Chips and salsa are a must, and you can choose between four salsa flavors: green, fresh, taco sauce, and sunsettter (the hottest). We added the White Poblano Cheese Dip to the appetizer order, too.
Tacos, salads, bowls, and Mexican ramen make up Camp Taco’s offerings. I chose the Big Shell Taco Salad for my main entree, with the Adobo ‘Shrooms protein. The fried taco shell held a mix of beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and both sour cream and guacamole. Who knew vegetarian options could be so tasty?
My husband chose the Bandito Pollo taco tray with two side items. One unique option is the Camp Pickles, a sweet and spicy pickled rainbow carrots dish. Mmm.
Are you familiar with paletas, the Mexican frozen treats made from fresh fruits? You can order them virgin or boozy, available in many flavors. The one pictured above is a virgin double vanilla pop with Fanta orange. It was refreshing and delicious.
3. Clinton Presidential Library
You’ll find the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, dedicated to the 42nd US president, at the Clinton Presidential Center and Park. Tickets run $12 per person (discounts for youth, students, and seniors) for the museum, which is open seven days a week.
I found the library and museum exhibits interesting, and the state-of-the-art facility is definitely worth visiting; it should only take an hour or two to tour the facility unless you want to dig deep into the offerings.
Exhibits range from a timeline of Clinton’s life before, during, and after the presidency, the Presidential limousine, a replica of the Oval Office, restoring the economy, and gifts from the people, to name a few. Be sure to check out the well-appointed gift shop.
Fun Fact: Active duty US Military get in free, and everyone gets in free on Presidents’ Day and the Saturday before Bill Clinton’s August 19th birthday.
4. Gone With The Wind Film Site
We were surprised to learn that one remaining film site from the classic, Gone With The Wind is in North Little Rock. The Old Mill, a historical recreation of a circa 1880’s water-powered grist mill, was featured in the movie’s opening scene, released in 1939. It is easily one of the most fun things in Little Rock you’ll want to experience.
The picturesque mill sits on a three-acre site, T. R. Pugh Memorial Park, which attracts people from all over the world. It is a beautiful setting, even without the tie-in to the movie.
Fun Fact: The mill was built in 1933, a few years before the movie was filmed.
We were in Little Rock in the fall, so the changing colors of the leaves made the photos of the Old Mill even more gorgeous. The park has plenty of spaces to walk around and a lovely rock bridge.
5. Outlet Mall Shopping
The Outlets of Little Rock is a huge shopping destination with 50+ stores, restaurants, and entertainment options. The mall’s store directory includes Sunglass Hut, Rocket Fizz (cool craft sodas and retro candy shop), Levi’s, and Chico’s, to name a few. Grab a snack at Auntie Anne’s or a quick meal at Frogs Burgers and Shakes.
6. Civil Rights Sites
Little Rock, Arkansas, has one of the nation’s most important Civil Rights Sites and is on the US Civil Rights Trail. The sensational Civil Rights museum is housed in the Little Rock Central High School, where in 1957, nine African American teenage students were integrated into an all-white school.
The Little Rock Crisis followed, where the Governor of Arkansas prevented the students from attending school. I won’t spoil the story for you, but the Little Rock Central High School site is worth visiting and learning about. Known as the Little Rock Nine, the National Park Service manages this site.
7. Little Rock Murals
Little Rock is full of really cool murals, and you can even take a mural tour. Works of art range from dancing produce to butterflies and Instagram-worthy creations.
My favorites were the Radio Flyer wagon holding all the downtown Little Rock treasures (Playtime), the downtown Little Rock skyline (Everyone’s Neighborhood), and “Chanel.”
8. Downtown Little Rock
The River Market District is the downtown area’s epicenter and the city’s cultural heart. Expect an arsenal of fantastic restaurants, bars, museums, galleries, and a perfect place to walk around and enjoy the scene and setting. Part of the area runs alongside the Arkansas River; in another, colorful ginkgo Biloba trees line the walkways.
Like you take a guided double-decker red bus tour in big cities to see the sights, you can do the same in Little Rock on the METRO streetcar. Operators give tours along the route. Come by nightly for the hourly bridge glow show along the Arkansas River.
In the summer, you can enjoy live music on the river banks.
Restaurants are plentiful in the River Market District. A few noteworthy ones include Prost, Hurts Donuts, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, and Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro.
“The River Market Entertainment District (RMED) allows guests age 21 and older to carry alcoholic beverages in RMED cups while wearing the RMED wristband in all public spaces and participating commercial properties, within the boundaries of the district daily from 8 a.m. to midnight.”
9. Press Waffle Co for Breakfast
Would you love to start your morning with a gourmet waffle? Press Waffle Co. was a great find with a mouth-watering menu chock full of yumminess. Ingredients ranged from chicken & waffles and ice cream to fruit, Monte Cristo, sprinkles, and more.
I ordered the Elvis Waffle with freshly sliced bananas, honey, crispy bacon crumbles, and (naturally) peanut butter.
The base of the Elvis is a Liége waffle. These are thicker and darker in color than a Belgian waffle, with little clusters of caramelized pearl sugar noticeable when you bite into it. If you are in the area, it will behoove you to drop by.
10. Esse Purse Museum
When my friends found out I was heading to Little Rock, nearly all suggested and recommended the Esse Purse Museum. Okay, never heard of a purse museum, so I was already intrigued. Color me impressed when I entered the small but mighty museum with a phenomenal display and offering of 20th-century purses and 100 years of purse contents. The collections and items were fascinating, and I learned a lot during my visit.
Admission to the Esse Purse Museum is $10, or $8 for students and seniors, Tuesday through Sunday. There is a parking lot beside the museum offering free parking. After exploring the exhibits, you’ll find a lovely museum shop selling unique handbags, jewelry, accessories, and handmade goods.
11. Big Orange
I’d had my eye on Big Orange since I arrived in Little Rock. The menu descriptions, including burgers, creative salads, and whipped milkshakes intrigued me from the get-go. Big Orange is a busy place, so rather than wait for a table, we found seats at the bar and had excellent service.
The Big Orange Cheese Dip, Arkansas style (homemade chips instead of tortillas), was a tasty starter dish. My husband set his sights on the Thai Chop Chicken Salad, with a thick and rich ginger-soy vinaigrette, while I could not pass up a gourmet burger.
Burgers at Big Orange offer choices—choice of patty to go with your killer concoction. For my Delta Blue Cheeseburger, I went with the Half & Half, 50% ground Angus beef, and 50% vegetables. It featured red pepper jelly, butter lettuce, tomato, red onion, and garlic mayo. It was so good, but I was surprised that the burgers come à la carte.
Other popular items include boozy shakes, flavored soda pop, and floats.
Little Rock is a fun and cool place to visit. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many great things there are to do there. Happy travels.
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